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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The Flash S3E3: Magenta.

The Flash
Series 3, Episode 3

It's odd, given how enthusiastically I have praised Tom Cavanagh's performance on The Flash in the past -- and, in point of fact, literally yesterday -- I actually wasn't all that excited to see him back in this week's episode. In fact, just in general, I've not been all that hyped for this episode. Perhaps that's because, traditionally, the third episode of ealch Flash series tends to be one of the weaker ones: The first series gave us the episode about the poisonous gas man, which was fine but not exactly memorable; while the second series gave us 'Family of Rogues,' an episode which basically existed purely to hype up Legends of Tomorrow.

Generally speaking, there is a good reason for this: The first two episodes of each series tend to be quite exposition and plot heavy and are often capped off with a significant plot twist at the end, while the fourth episode of each series tends to press some crossover elements and thus ends up being a little inaccessible for new viewers. The third episode, then, usually acts as a breather, vaguely continuing the plot arc of each show but being, overall, fairly plot-light and fluffy.

In this week's episode, Wells and Jesse arrive on Earth-1, seeking to test Jesse for the Speed Force, as she has exhibited super speed following her and Wally's encounter with the second dark matter explosion. As Wells attempts to convince Jesse not to become a superhero, the team goes up against a metahuman with a split personality and the power of telekinesis, who calls herself Magenta, and is seemingly another victim of Doctor Alchemy. Meanwhile, Barry and Iris' relationship gets off to a slow start, and Barry and Julian's working partnership becomes more and more strained.

Wally is so pretty.

We'll touch briefly on Cavanagh's acting in this episode, because it's actually kind of bizarre. Cavanagh is, by trade, a comedic actor, and he's best known for his roles on shows like Love Monkey, Scrubs, and Eli Stone, all of which fall very squarely into being sitcom-ish comedy dramas -- but his roles on The Flash have generally not been comedic at all, in fact they've generally been the most serious and straight-faced roles in the show, with Thawne being characterised by a combination of soft-spoken geniality and quiet, understated menace, and Wells being characterised by being gruff, tormented, and enigmatic.

In this episode, he is playing comedy, at least in the first half of the episode. He's playing comedy very adeptly, as you would expect from an actor with a fairly long comedic background, and it is utterly at odds both with the tone of his characters in the previous two series, and, actually, the tone of the show itself, since the style of humour Cavanagh has experience in is a lot more pronounced and dramatic than the style of humour the rest of the show uses. He's as charismatic as ever, but every scene he's in in that first half fits uncomfortably against the rest of the show.

Moving on from that, this is a pretty fun episode, if not exactly one I think anybody will be remembering. A few subplots get dropped: Julian recklessly endangering an entire police station is never brought up again after it happens, even though it really should have earned him a pretty stern reprimand. Similarly, Wells' distaste for Barry changing the timeline is noted, but never really goes anywhere. 

Wells and Jesse.

(Speaking of Julian, my gut says that he can't be Doctor Alchemy because it would be too obvious, which in all likelihood means that he is definitely Doctor Alchemy -- I thought Wells Mk. 1 actually being Thawne was too obvious, and that happened, and I thought Jay being Zoom was too obvious, and that happened. So, there you go. That's that mystery solved courtesy of my gut instinct always being wrong with this show.)

The other big subplot is Wally trying to awaken his speed, with the heavy implication being that just like other people who were metahumans during Flashpoint, he somewhat remembers having powers. Again, that plot doesn't really lead anywhere, but unlike the other dropped plots, it's pretty clearly just set-up for a future run-in with Doctor Alchemy.

Caitlin, in a really nicely lit shot.

The main plot of this episode, meanwhile, is -- there? It's nice to see a metahuman dealt with by being talked down, and I respect that they managed to make that a scene with a fair amount of dramatic tension, since that's not always easy to do. Other than that, it pans out in a fairly usual way, with all the plot beats you'd expect from a metahuman-of-the-week plotline. If it seems like I'm kind of skimming over the main plot, it's because there isn't really a whole lot to say about it. It was enjoyable, certainly, but as I said before, I don't think anybody's going to particular remember it.

Next episode looks to have Cavanagh and Beane appearing again as Wells and Jesse, although I doubt they'll be staying in the show long. Much like Tyler Hoechlin's appearance on Supergirl, they seem to be recurring characters appearing for a few episodes and then leaving again, and I have a sneaking suspicion that next week we'll also see a recurring cast member show up on Arrow, only to then leave the week after.

Apart from that, we've got the Mirror Master, one of the Flash's most well-known enemies showing up. That should be interesting to see, at least.

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